Liberman and the next government

More and more voices in the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu are speaking about the need to finally make the necessary socioeconomic changes in Israel, to look inward, not outward.

By
December 13, 2012 20:36
4 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman

Liberman in front of star of david 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mary Calvert)

Yes, Avigdor Liberman really enjoys being foreign minister.

He roams around the world like a bull in a china shop, talking to diners at the Saban Forum like a doberman, provoking the Europeans, preaching his truth to the goyim. But he doesn’t really want to stay on as foreign minister in the next government.

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He’s had his fill. By the way, if you ask the Europeans, they’ve also had it with him. And he doesn’t really want to be defense minister. At least, that’s what he tells his associates.

Every time someone says on television, or writes in the newspaper, that Liberman will be the next defense minister, Yvette (his birth name) smiles.

Let them be a little afraid, he tells his associates, why not? What he really wants is to be the next finance minister.

And not just the finance minister.

If it’s possible, and with Liberman it is possible, then he wants to be finance minister, housing minister and interior minister. Nothing less. Why not? At one time, Ariel Sharon built a portfolio for Ehud Olmert that was not much smaller.

Why? Because Liberman wants to solve the housing crisis in Israel within two weeks. He has been dreaming about that since he served as director of the Prime Minister’s Office during Binyamin Netanyahu’s first term in 1996-1999. Then he was frustrated by the bureaucratic blockages that still pervade the whole country, by the body now called the Israel Lands Authority, and by stuck-up politicians.

He thinks that nothing can been resolved without merging the three relevant ministries: the ministry with the money (Finance), the ministry with the land (Interior) and the regulatory ministry (Construction and Housing).

Liberman wants every young couple in Israel to be able to get affordable housing. Not just haredim, who are now taken care of by Ariel Attias, the housing minister from Shas. Regular Israelis, those who carry the national burden.

Liberman knows he can do it, When people tell him that the next finance minister will have to cut NIS 15 billion in a month and a half, he snorts scornfully. In 1996, he says, we cut more. There’s no problem in cutting.

Will he get all three ministries from Netanyahu? Liberman usually gets what he wants. The thing is that all this is being said before the elections. The public hasn’t get gone to the polls; the coalition hasn’t yet been formed.

Perhaps these ministries will be given to Yisrael Beytenu, and Liberman will hand out the Interior and Housing ministries to his people. But it’s also possible that all of Liberman’s plans will go up in smoke, and he will be forced to do something else. (A note of caution: There’s always the possibility that he is trying to put everyone to sleep, and when they wake up, he will already be at the Kirya, the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, playing with the red button.) It’s interesting that Liberman’s agenda is parallel to everything that Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett says. He also wants to be the next housing minister.

Who knows, they might ultimately work together, Yvette in the Finance and Interior ministries, Bennett in Housing. The two men respect each other.

But in the interim, Liberman has no intention of giving up his agenda for the sake of Bennett. The only real threat to the Likud Beytenu list today is Bennett. And unlike Bennett, who hasn’t yet done anything in politics and hasn’t moved a real building from one place to another, Liberman has the credentials of a bulldozer. Most of the time, he has dealt with demolitions. Now we wants to build. If he tackles the housing crisis as if it were Abu Mazen, the Palestinian Authority’s president, then it will be resolved in 18 months, not two years. Just out of fear.

There is a not slim chance that the next government can be formed without haredi parties. Likud Beytenu plus two or three of the center-left parties (Shelly Yacimovich, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid) plus Bennett. What’s wrong with that? They will be able to change the electoral system and call up haredim to do national service. Livni would be foreign minister and Lapid education minister. The Likud’s Gilad Erdan, by the way, is being talked about as a candidate for justice minister. The Likud’s Moshe Ya’alon would be defense minister.

And if Livni is out, then the Likud’s Gidon Sa’ar could be foreign minister and Labor’s Yacimovich minister of industry and trade, or welfare, or both.

More and more voices, in the Likud and around Liberman (which just echo Liberman), are speaking about the need to finally make the necessary socioeconomic changes in Israel, to look inward, not outward, let Shas dry out in the next government’s term of office, together with Ashkenazi haredim, and put our house in order.


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